British Jews held a demonstration outside the French Embassy on Sunday following a decision by France’s highest court to spare an antisemitic murderer from trial because he was high on drugs at the time.
The country’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled last week that Kobili Traore was not criminally responsible for the death of Sarah Halimi, 65, because he had succumbed to a “delirious fit” after smoking cannabis.
Registration for Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Covid-compliant reached capacity within 24 hours of announcing the protest, which was one of a number of events held across France, Israel and the United States.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s chief executive, Gideon Falter, who hosted the event, told the crowd: “During the Holocaust, French authorities were too often complicit in the genocide of French Jews. After the war, the nation vowed to defend what remained of its Jewish population. The decision of France’s highest court that torturing and throwing an elderly Jewish woman out of a window cannot be ascribed to antisemitic motivations if the attacker is high, is a betrayal of that pledge.”
He added: “For decades, French Jews have suffered antisemitic abuse, violence and terrorism. Antisemitism in France is out of control, with incidents rising 121% since 2017, and Jews, who comprise 1% of France’s population, bearing the brunt of 41% of hate crimes.
Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old retired doctor and schoolteacher, was killed in her Paris apartment by neighbour Traoré, who had subjected her to years of antisemitic abuse. He savagely beat her, shouting “Allahu akhbar” and then hurled her from her window to her death, shouting: “I killed the shaitan [demon]”.
For months, French authorities refused to admit the antisemitic nature of his crime. Halimi’s murderer claimed he had felt “possessed” because he was high on cannabis and should not be held responsible. Last week, France’s highest court took his side.
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